What is Health Information Exchange?

As the health care environment transitions to electronic records, there has been a growing need to integrate data through a health information exchange (HIE). HIE is the secure, electronic exchange of health information that is used between authorized users in the health care community, like health care providers, clinical staff and public health agencies. These authorized users can use an HIE to drive timely, efficient, and patient-centered care. The exchange of health care information helps to improve patient care and safety, reduce redundancy and medical errors, as well as necessary costs or issues associated.

What does an HIE do?

A HIE electronically collects and delivers real-time patients' medical information to the healthcare providers and staff. A patient's medical information would have to come from collaborating hospitals, practices, labs and agencies. Patient health information that can be accessed through Atrium Health CareConnect currently include:

Patient demographics including insurance information

Lab results, pathology and radiology results, cardiology reports and images

Medication history and Continuity of Care Documents (CCDs)

Transcribed reports including consultations, operation reports, and other relevant information

Patient medication history and much more

Why is Health Information Exchange important?

Every day physicians are faced with making medical decisions based on limited information. A study by the Commonwealth Fund concluded that 30 percent of the time, physicians could not find previously recorded information in the patient's a paper chart. Other issues an HIE can help to address include:

  • Duplicate testing - the same drug or radiology exam was ordered 11 percent of the time, with patients complying with the duplicate order 50 percent of the time.
  • Incomplete information - physicians were unaware of one in four medications prescribed for patients.
  • Uncertainty - one in seven admissions and one in five lab and radiology tests were ordered due to retrieval barriers. A typical physician receives test results from five or more locations.
  • Data collection and transfer costs - the cost of tracking down and obtaining patient information ranges from $12 to $28 per visit.

How do HIEs optimize patients' quality of care?

  • Reduces the time commitment and financial burden of exchanging health information
  • Improves communication among healthcare providers and their patients
  • Reduces duplicative tests and medications
  • Facilitates coordination of care across healthcare settings
  • Improves the efficiency and value of electronic health records

How does Atrium Health CareConnect keep patient health information safe?

Patient privacy and security is of the utmost importance. Unlike paper health records, Atrium Health CareConnect is built to only allow authorized providers to view patient information on a "need to know" basis. Health information is protected by secure user names and passwords assigned to physician office staff. Additionally, Atrium Health CareConnect can track who accesses patient medical information. Atrium Health CareConnect's system is designed to meet all state and federal laws regarding the protection of patient health information.

Who can see my patients' health information?

Only authorized medical professionals are able to see your patients' health information. It is accessed securely through Atrium Health CareConnect within a physician office or authorized medical facility and is only accessible by select individuals.

Do patients have the right to know who views their health information?

Yes. At any time patients may request an audit report. The audit report shows who has viewed the patient's health information, what information was viewed and when it was viewed. If a patient would like to request an audit report, please contact Atrium Health CareConnect.

Can I view my own health information at any time?

Currently, Atrium Health CareConnect does not provide patients access to look up their own information.

What happens if my patients' health information is unlawfully accessed?

Atrium Health CareConnect requires all health care providers that have access to patient information sign an agreement that states they are only permitted to view information about a patient with whom they have a direct relationship and need to know. If that agreement is violated, legal action will be taken. Strict regulations are in place by the government and Atrium Health CareConnect will enforce them for anyone who unlawfully accesses patient health information.

If you believe that a person, agency or organization covered under HIPAA violated your patients' health information privacy rights or committed another violation of the Privacy Rule, you may file a complaint with the federal Office for Civil Rights. Individuals found in violation of HIPAA can be civilly and criminally prosecuted. For more information, see http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/privacy/hipaa/complaints/index.html

Does Atrium Health CareConnect share health information with employers or health insurance companies?

No. Atrium Health CareConnect only provides patient health information exclusively between health care providers for treatment purposes. Atrium Health CareConnect does not share health information with any employers. Additionally, the HIPAA Privacy Rule absolutely prohibits health care providers and plans from disclosing personal health information to employers without a patient's explicit, written authorization.

What if my patients do not want their information accessible in Atrium Health CareConnect?

A patient can opt out of having their health information shared electronically by notifying Atrium Health CareConnect. However, if a patient decides to again participate in Atrium Health CareConnect, they can opt back in by notifying Atrium Health CareConnect.

Note: Not all health care providers are participating in Atrium Health CareConnect. If providers are not participating in Atrium Health CareConnect, then the patient's health information is not available through Atrium Health CareConnect.

How are Health Information Exchanges growing?

On the national level, HIE growth is being driven by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and the Medicare and Medicaid incentive payments to eligible providers and hospitals who demonstrate the "meaningful use" of health information technology (HIT). Health care reform—Accountable Care Organizations and Patient Centered Medical homes—as well as pay-for-performance incentives also are driving an increased need to manage orders and other clinical data electronically and communicate that data to registries and health plan systems to support payment.

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